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This article was published 3/1/2015 (2401 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Dozens of Winnipeg students gathered Friday afternoon for a quiet vigil in Osborne Village to remember Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen from Ohio who committed suicide after her parents refused to accept her gender identity.
The vigil, organized by students at Kelvin High School's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group, lasted about an hour. Students shielded candles from the cold as they stood at the corner of River Avenue and Osborne Street.
"I'm completely heartbroken. Getting driven to that point is crazy; it's ridiculous, especially having your parents not even try to help you," said Jessica Stefanik, a Kelvin organizer.
Alcorn, 17, died after walking into the path of a truck last Sunday. In an online suicide note Alcorn had scheduled to be posted after her death, she recounted being driven to despair after her devout Christian parents refused to accept her as a girl.
She was forced to undergo conversion therapy, ostensibly a way of trying to change sexual orientation through therapy. It has been panned by medical groups, including the American Psychiatric Association, and is outlawed in two U.S. states.
"It's your life, ultimately," Stefanik said, speaking about transgender teens and their parents. "Yes, they're your parents, but you can't let that stop you from living your own life how you want to, because ultimately they're not the ones going through that."
Alcorn's death has given rise to vigils around North America and people tweeting under the hashtag #LeelahAlcorn to talk about challenges faced by transgender people.
At the Winnipeg vigil, organizers stressed help is available for people struggling with similar issues.
"It's unfortunate that people's parents and friends don't always support them, but I just hope that people know that there is a community that will help and support them through a transition like that," said Harmony Light.